Breaking Bad: Schraderbrau "bottle-bombs"....

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by GardenWaters, Sep 27, 2013.

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  1. GardenWaters

    GardenWaters Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Illinois

    I was just watching some old reruns of Breaking Bad. In one episode, Hank is bottling his homebrew which he calls "Schraderbrau". Later on in the episode, he awakes to the sound of breaking glass only to discover that he had "bottle bombs" (obviously due to over-priming). What I thought was strange that all the bottles had erupted simultaneously.

    So I guess this question pertains more-so to the home brewers out there. We all had read stories in these forums about these so called bottle-bombs, and it does actually happen.... quite a bit. But has anyone ever over-primed an entire batch and actually had all the bottles explode at the exact same time? Or at least had them all explode within a few minutes of each other? I was thinking the MythBusters could put this one to the test!
  2. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (847) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Being a homebrewer myself, when we watched that episode for the first time I immediately knew what was happening when they heard those noises. Me - 1, Breaking Bad - 0.
  3. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Initiate (0) Jun 21, 2009 Virginia

    You'd think with his own custom 6-pack holders he'd have his process down a little better than that?

  4. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,276) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    If one goes, and they are all together, a chain reaction can occur as the pressure wave and debris cause the others to go. Heard about that on a tour of a champaign house.
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  5. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,081) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I had a batch get infected and overcarb, one bottle blew (at 2 weeks) and the rest did not. It could happen, but typically the one(s) that blow first are the bottles that are weakest, either from continual reuse, have been dropped but not popped, are thinner due to design, etc. I've (personally) never heard of having entire batches blow.
  6. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    television is a truth machine in the same sense as the internet is a truth machine. :rolling_eyes:
    ericj551 and inchrisin like this.
  7. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Actually, bottle bombs are relatively rare. But yes, this could happen.

    If the bottles are exploding because the brewer added too much priming sugar, it's likely the whole batch would be overprimed. If they were all stored together, one bottle could blow and cause the bottles next to it to go, too.

    Bottle bombs can also result from an infection. In that case it would be less likely for a whole batch to be overpressurized and ready to explode, but I suppose it could still happen.

    Let's just say that in my view, this was not even close to being the most unrealistic thing that happened on Breaking Bad.
    GardenWaters likes this.
  8. quirkzoo

    quirkzoo Initiate (0) Jul 7, 2011 Colorado

    Agreed, I was so happy with myself for knowing this.

    Here is me reading way too much into this event on a fictional tv show.

    First off, Hank is a total douche, he homebrews to get wasted so I don't see him being very into "sanitation" (ironic air quotes) and other stuff like that. So it is possible there was an infection. Similarly I think he would likely not be very exact with his measurements so adding far too much priming sugar, or :gasp: measuring by volume instead of by weight, is very possible. He also has them priming in his garage in fucking Albequerque. Even if he accounted for sanitation and proper priming procedures the increased heat of a garage in the middle of the desert could cause overcarbonation.

    Furthermore, if you remember he caps one of his bottles so hard it actually breaks in the capper. To me this indicates that as others have said he likely reuses his bottles a ton and my guess is that many of the bottles have multiple weak points. Add to this the vibration and shrapnel caused by the first bottle bombs and the scenario in the tv show is quite possible.

    ceci n'est pas une pipe

    machalel, bushycook, sjverla and 2 others like this.
  9. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (523) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    This happens to me relatively often (a time or two every couple batches), but I think it's due to my cheap capper and maybe Sierra Nevada bottles, which don't seem too compatible with said capper, rather than excessive recycling.

    However, I have been homebrewing a bit over 26 years, with zero bottle bombs. The 'chain reaction' theory seems somewhat plausible though.

    I'm just happy that I seem to be more like Hank than Walter, even though I work as a chemist
  10. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Maybe a few bottles just got infected. :slight_smile:
  11. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (847) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Thats the kind of analysis I was hoping for on BA...
  12. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I don't think so. Temperature will affect the speed at which the yeast metabolizes the priming sugar, but it will not affect the volume of C02 produced in any significant way.
    bushycook and MMAJYK like this.
  13. quirkzoo

    quirkzoo Initiate (0) Jul 7, 2011 Colorado

    true, I guess the time period in-between bottling and bottle bombs in that episode is undetermined but it seemed like only a couple of days.
  14. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (688) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm thinking Mythbusters, too : )
  15. primrose54

    primrose54 Initiate (143) Apr 7, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    *Spoiler alert*
    I was sad to see a fellow home brewer die. I wonder what is wife will do with his carboys...?
    bushycook and russpowell like this.
  16. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (7,506) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Beer Trader

    Still a bad place to store homebrew unless it's the cooler part of the year & I presume ABQ has some wildly fluctuating temps even then (based on the winters I spent in somewhat nearby CO Springs) ...
    Hank, what were you thinking??? & Next time bring a fricking back-up long gun with ya...
  17. sarcastro

    sarcastro Disciple (335) Sep 20, 2006 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I was in ABQ in mid march and there was snow on the ground at least for a little bit.
  18. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,335) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Nope. But I like the rest of the Hank rant!
  19. sokol21

    sokol21 Initiate (126) Sep 15, 2009 Massachusetts

    Seemed to me like the SAME day. He skipped work to brew, and bottled at the end of the day. OF COURSE he's gonna get bombs.
  20. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (503) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado


    Haven't seen this last season (well, second half of the last season) yet! I canceled cable/satellite a couple months ago and just get the local channels, so I'm waiting for it to come out on Netflix. I've been cutting people off mid-sentence when they start talking about it...shit!

    OK, sorry...:rolling_eyes:
  21. MattXT

    MattXT Crusader (713) Nov 23, 2010 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Heisenberg would make a great brewer. Also, Jesse likes woodworking, so they could have an in-house cooper for the BA brews. (first sentence intentionally left in that tense.)
  22. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I know what you mean. I was a few episodes behind (just watched the last one last night) and pretty much had to skip any social media for the first two days after it aired. I have heard that there are certain websites through which one can download or otherwise view this season for varying fees ranging from $0...
    carteravebrew likes this.
  23. jtheeg

    jtheeg Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2015 Nevada

    During Prohibition, my grandfather brewed his own beer. I'm sure the glass wasn't as good, measurements so precise, or sanitation so great. My father said he remembered some instances of chain fire, with one bottle going off and setting off the rest in the case.
  24. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    My story is not a homebrew story, but I have had several bottles of a 6 pack of brown ale explode in my car. I picked them up on a discount rack at one store while on my way to another store. When I got back to the car at the second store, the car smelled of beer. I looked at the back seat a saw that the bottles exploded. It wasn't just a matter of bottles breaking - they exploded. Glass everywhere.
    inchrisin likes this.
  25. Lukass

    Lukass Savant (919) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I've posted something similar before, but my bottles that blew were from a batch of extra pale ale. I overlooked some of the bottles when I was sanitizing, and not all of them got the star san bath. Not all the bottles blew, but the 9 or so that did seemed to set off a chain-reaction, and more exploded. Not a good sound to hear at midnight.. and clean-up was a pain in the ass.

    Mine were not necessarily over-primed, but were infected gushers. The rest of the batch tasted great!

  26. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I had 4 or 5 blow within a few minutes of each other. I was wondering wtf the noise was. So my experience, I'd say it could happen.
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